Dallas Morning News - January 14, 2021
Winter Watering Advice
If not already done, irrigation systems need to be cut way back or off completely. Some homeowners are admitting to still watering with the same schedule used in the summer. It’s easy to leave the controller on automatic and worry about other things. Not only is that a huge waste of water, but the soil is being damaged and plant roots are being injured. Watering too much forces oxygen out of the soil, creates anaerobic conditions, makes plant roots lazy and keeps them growing right at the surface of the soil rather than being deep and strong.
Automatic irrigation systems should be shut off and manually operated in the winter especially
Some watering needs to be done in the winter but how much depends on your location, soil conditions, plant types, etc. If you are organic, you'll have lower water needs because of healthy soil, but there is no schedule that works for everyone. All sites vary due to soil type, sun or shade, slope, etc. Sandy soils and sloped sites require a little more frequency. In cool and cold weather, it would be rare to need to irrigate any more often than twice a month at the most.
Best plan? Turn irrigation controllers to the manual setting so they won't come on unless you push the button. When dry, windy periods happen, water heavily so the moisture goes deep into the soil. Then wait as long as possible before watering again. Folks without automatic systems should use the same concept with their hoses and other devices.
Over-watering wastes money and damages landscaping - especially in the winter
This wet-dry cycle or "pulsing" of the moisture is what plant roots, from turf to trees, need. There'll be water saving, prettier landscaping and reduced disease, insect and weed infestations. Proper moisture management encourages plants to grow roots deeper into the soil, making them healthier and more drought tolerant. In healthy, well-drained, biologically active soil, moisture is held at the proper level longer and roots of plants become larger and more efficient at pulling in water and nutrients.
Another winter irrigation issue relates to freeze damage. Should outdoor faucets and hoses be disconnected before freezing weather. The answer is yes – just to be on the safe side, but there is a new device on the market that makes this a non problem.
The Freeze Miser device eliminates the need to shut off faucets in the winter
The Freeze Miser is an easy-to-use device that can protect outdoor water supplies such as faucets, hoses, float valves for water troughs, RV water hook ups, pumps around water wells, and more. It's really cool how simple it is. Screw the Freeze Miser onto outdoor faucets by hand, open the faucet valves fully and walk away. Dripping will start automatically to protect faucets from freezing when water inside the device becomes 37°F (five degrees above freezing). Y-connectors can be used so hoses can still be used without removing the devices.
The Freeze Miser is available in garden centers, hardware stores and on-line at FreezeMiser.com